UCF vs. Cincinnati Betting Picks, Odds & Predictions: Will Knights Cover on the Road?
Reinhold Matay, USA Today Sports.
- The spread for UCF-Cincinnati is UCF -3.5 with the over/under set at 61 after being bet up from 60.
- Our CFB experts Collin Wilson and Stuckey give their favorite betting picks for the game.
- Will the Knights cover as road favorites?
UCF at Cincinnati Picks, Odds & Predictions
- Spread: UCF -3.5
- Over/Under: 60.5
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Odds as of Thursday evening at 5:20 p.m. ET and via PointsBet, where Action Network users get an exclusive 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).
UCF vs. Cincinnati Line Movement
The difference between bets and money in this matchup has been substantial, and the line movement has reflected it — at least the most recent movement.
After opening as a field-goal favorite, UCF was immediately brought up to -4/4.5 by Monday, which is where sportsbooks started to field heavy action. Getting two-thirds of bets, the Knights expectedly have been the popular side, but with 61% of actual money hitting Cincy, the line has fallen back down to UCF -3.5.
As for the total, the 82% backing of the over has done little to move the number. Most books are still sitting at the opener of 60.5, while some have inched up by a half point. — Danny Donahue
Collin Wilson: Havoc Will Be the Difference
Cincinnati was a public darling in last year’s collision with Central Florida. The Bearcats entered as a touchdown underdog, but managed just a single offensive score against the Knights. Some of the details have changed over the past 11 months, but the constants remain the same. UCF still owns a high-powered explosive offense and Cincinnati still cannot handle high-havoc defenses.
Like Ohio State, the Knights are a top-10 team at producing plays that go for 20-plus yards. UCF has the fifth-most 20-plus yard passing plays and eighth-most 20-plus yards rushing plays.
Cincinnati, which has lost 13 straight games against top-25 teams, ranks 42nd defensively in 20-yard passes allowed. It is not a stretch to think Cincinnati will give up big plays, and a limited offense will prevent a comeback.
Havoc should also play a big part in the game. Central Florida is fourth in defensive havoc, which does not bode well for a Cincinnati offensive line that is 114th in sack rate. The Knights have 47 tackles for loss, only behind Ohio State.
Ohio State proved that Cincinnati can be rattled with havoc-minded defenses and explosive plays on offense. In addition to what Central Florida brings to the table, Darriel Mack Jr. is back and healthy thus increasing the red zone play package for the Knights.
The Pick: UCF -4 or better
Stuckey: Can Cinci Stutter UCF’s Pace?
Betting the Under in a game involving UCF, which led the nation in Adjusted Pace last season and has scored at least 30 points in 31 straight games, is a scary proposition. But I think there’s some value here.
A lot of UCF’s numbers are impressive but the Knights lost to Pitt, the only team they’ve faced with a pulse. This is arguably a tougher spot for their freshman quarterback, Dillon Gabriel.
Cincinnati’s defense is legitimate and is able to play a very aggressive brand of defense in large part due to star cornerback Coby Bryant.
That style of defense enabled the Bearcats to finish 12th in the nation in rush yards per attempt, while also leading the country in opponent QB completion percentage. That’s an impressive combination.
Like Collin noted, Cincy’s aggressiveness does leave them exposed to the big passing play, which is concerning against UCF, but I am confident in this defense overall.
Cincinnati’s offense does not play fast, and I expect it to play even slower on Friday night to keep UCF’s offense off the field. That leads me to believe that Luke Fickell will go with an even heavier rush attack than normal (Cincinnati currently operates at a 60/40 run/pass clip). The Bearcats will have finally have a fully healthy back-field and will face a defense that is vulnerable against the run.
The Knights ranked 91st in the nation last season, allowing 4.7 yards per rush and Pittsburgh was able to run the rock 37 times for 196 yards. Quarterback Desmond Ridder should come into this game with some confidence, as he torched Marshall last week. Still, I don’t think they’ll ask him to do too much against a very underrated UCF secondary. Expect a heavy ground attack to keep the clock moving.
And when Cincy does have to punt, they have one of the best punters in the nation in James Smith. He can flip a field and pin an opposing offense deep as well as anybody in the country.
Cincinnati isn’t without flaws. Its offensive line has struggled at times and it has had some penalty and red zone problems, but those issues could help the Under.
Ultimately, I think Cincy will control the clock and move the ball on the ground with ease while getting a few key stops with the help of the home crowd. I’d take the Bearcats at any number north of a field goal along with the Under.